Archive for tag: finals

Another Trimester

Well, everyone, now is the time to close out yet another trimester of classes. Next week is finals week and we will have a two-week break before returning the second week in May. 

This trimester has seen some short-range changes in schedule, work and diet in order to affect long-term outcomes for the better with regard to clinical learning, finances and health for years to come. 

The classes this trimester have been brutal with the workload between exams, quizzes, papers, presentations, prescribing, assignments, and attendance. At the same time, I feel like our studies have come full circle and we have applied all of the facts that are thrown at us in the basic sciences portion of our studies.  We have prescribed, differentially diagnosed, treated and critiqued both our own work as well as that of our classmates. We have delved into complex topics such as the impact of biofilms on the human organism, the impact of an improperly functioning methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) enzyme and its necessity within the human body as well as the efficacy of liposomal delivery of supplements, just to name a few topics. 

When I took a firm look at my finances currently and projected them to graduation day, I knew I needed to take action to change the situation. When assessing the income opportunities while attending medical school, I weighed staying on a "full tilt" schedule versus slowing down to finish classes before clinical rotations and working a part-time job. Finally, mapping out the resources necessary for moving back to North Carolina, gaining a residency position or joining a practice, allowed me to be prepared for any situation I could think of. Of course, things may come up or ideas may come about that I didn't fathom before. This is when I will take time to pause, reassess and adjust the plan as conditions warrant. 

My diet has changed for the better. I have established the habit of taking a long hard look at the foods I put into my body. I have had to make some hard decisions as eating healthy, organically produced whole foods is a bit more expensive and time consuming to purchase and prepare. I plan my shopping trips better, don't waste time or fuel on multiple trips to the store, all while maintaining enough food without it going bad. Disclaimer: I have tripped up a couple of times when I felt rushed or simply too lazy to take time to cook properly. Good lesson for future patient care and "patience with patients" in there somewhere. :) 

I suppose the primary thing I have learned from the last 15 weeks is that we can accomplish what we need with the resources at hand. We simply need to look at our options, see what is available, then map, develop and proceed with the plan. Take a few stops along the way to measure progress, reassess direction and make changes if necessary. No rigid dogma required; flexibility and ability to admit error is key, as long as corrections (and progress) are made. I'll be working, then heading home to western North Carolina for the break. I'll definitely catch up with family and friends back home, do some work around the property and relax mostly. I hope each of you has a wonderful spring season! See you next trimester when I will be entering clinical rotations (for certain this time!) and sharing a bit about the "clinic life"!

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In the spirit of getting by and excelling with what one has, here is a pic of two early ducks in a tiny puddle on campus after a rain and a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson! Make do with what lies "within"you, develop and excel those traits and be your best! 

What lies behind us and before us are tiny matters compared with what lies within us. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trimester 6 Comes to a Close

Well, finals are finished (see the rainbow after the storm), my brain is pretty tired and my body feels like it needs a bit of a reboot.

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The sharing of the past four months has been fun. I wasn't quite sure that I was ready or even wanted to open up my studies, thoughts, challenges, successes--essentially my academic life for all to see--yet at the end of the trimester the first thought that comes to mind is one of gratitude. 

The theme this trimester has been tending one's garden. Through the process of blogging I have found many areas I thought were tended, yet only to discover many weeds that need to be "rooted out" so that my garden, life, classes, health, whatever needs attention, may thrive.

This past trimester was perhaps the busiest with the heaviest class load that I have attempted to this point in my studies. I had a hard time getting into the groove for the first four or five weeks, and the results showed in my grades on my midterms. So, for the second half of the trimester, I needed to redouble my efforts, find a more productive study strategy, and at the same time continue prepping for boards (another story for another time), which fell on Week 14 (week before finals) of the trimester.

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Joe and Christine studying for their Homeopathy III Final

Sometimes the calendar just turns out this way, so no use overstressing, complaining or procrastinating; just set a schedule and stick to it. Combine that with recognizing one's limits, pushing them a bit, knowing when to stop to recharge, and relentlessly do one's best. Sometimes the best is not an 'A' on a test when one has 5 finals in three days. Other times, the best is straight As; the situation varies. At this point in study, sometimes a 'C' on the last final of the last day of finals week is the best, happiest grade one receives!

I'm not saying that straight Cs are something to set as an achievement goal. I believe that the difficulty of carrying a full load at NUHS is such that even the best students, on what might be their best effort at the end of a trimester on their last final exam may only have enough 'mental gas' to garner a C. This is the reality for most of us here. I believe this process--the mental marathon of medical school--takes its toll. I believe that part of the medical school process is to prove to those who are high achievers, expect perfection and for the better part of their lives have achieved perfection in academic pursuits, that failure will happen. Better to learn to deal with some minor setbacks while in school than to graduate as a Doctor, step into the role of Healer with other human beings' lives in one's hand, and not be able to deal with a difficult pathology that may require some time, problem solving and flexible thinking to solve.

One must have the attribute of "dogged determination" to pursue medicine along with passion for improving the health of others. At the same time, caring for one's self, knowing one's own limits and how to expand those limits mentally, physically and emotionally is key to understanding the effort needed to complete this course of study--this journey that only takes us students to the edge of the true school, the real world with real patients with real and debilitating sicknesses. This is where we will truly learn, and that learning will never cease until our final heartbeat.

Alrighty! I think I'm off my soapbox now! I extend congratulations to our August 2012 naturopathic and chiropractic graduates! May your journey of learning, healing and growing never end! I'm ready for a relaxing couple of weeks of catching up on reading some history books, prepping materials for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Naturopathic Student Gathering coming up in November 2012 at NUHS and even a cleanse after a steady diet of caffeine and carbs for the past three weeks!

I will be entering clinic as an observer next trimester so I'm super excited about this opportunity! This is the essence of naturopathic medical school, sitting with the patient, learning about their history, ailment and attempts to remedy it. My plan is to introduce you to some of my classmates who are interns in clinic and their motivations for becoming a doctor, share some more of my experience along with successes and failures, and have a bit of fun along the way!

I'm thankful that you chose to accept my offer of sharing a bit of my journey and hope you will continue along with me as I finish up the last year and a half of my studies! This trimester, during a very challenging time about halfway through, a quote came back to me from Dr. Seuss. It helped me to get back on track. I'm thankful for Dr. Seuss and my folks for teaching me read with Dr. Seuss books! 

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself anywhere you choose."

See you in a couple of weeks!